Monday, June 29, 2009

Modern Blockbusters and the Transformers Effect

YEs, after reading some of the funniest thoughts ever written about a "summer movie," I thought I would add my $.02 to the spiraling madness. First, I should start by saying that I haven't seen it and probably won't. The first was a little too camp and not enough "super-hero" for me. Though I guess the caricature that Megan Fox became didn't help. I can say that she had a "kick ass" scene or two in the first but couldn't we have given her some FRICKIN PANTS for her intro!!! Sorry, "tension-breaker had to be done."

Anyway, I was pretty much expecting a BOFFO opening though I'm not convinced it'll have Star Trek legs as "word of mouth" doesn't work for this type of movie. Bay obviously wanted to strike fast and hard and go down just as fast and hard because 4200 theaters can have a slightly "not-Gran Torino" per theater average. I think Bush proved that appealing effectively to even the lowest common denominator has the desired "short-term" effect. Box office is definitely "short-term" so I think we can count on at least $700M worldwide. The big problem is going to be that the perfect demo needs accompaniment and adults are turning their noses up in droves.

It's actually rather amazing and telling that the same team that wrote Star Trek wrote this. Though it seems like a third writer was brought in after Orci and Kurtzman - Ian Bryce who has produced a lot but not written - it's obvious what a different director will do. Abrams did a bang up job on a very fun script, while it seems that Bay has gone for the glitter of glitter. According to sources a big factor was the writer's strike in 07 which put the skids on the entire production, writing-wise. That could be an "excuse" if not for the fact that IT'S A MOVIE ABOUT GIANT ROBOTS - give them a McGuffin and go. What was the "plot" of Iron Man? The Dark Knight? POTC? No one needs to know what happens after a Transformer dies.

At any rate, the reviews are fast and furious - though none of them can convince me to or dissuade me from seeing it. Some of the elements in the trailers and snippets were just awful. Maybe Bay should stop telling Megan Fox to "just act hot." Who would think she wasn't hot - except a guy who hates tattoos - but even then she'd have a hard time being thrown out of bed.

Anyway, I think people should just remember that 6 months from now this will be a distant memory and there will probably be little permanent damage to anyone's psyche - unless of course they don't take Ebert's advice and sit in the front row. Of course the racial furor won't help the next weeks' BO tally, but hey I have to live around MudFlap and Skids as a Brooklynite so I'm glad others have to deal with it. (I guess it's what happens when you don't stand for something)

I can say that this film - one review called it T:ROTFL - has brought out the cinema purists in America. Some of the posts at Ebert's blog were seriously thought out and gave me hope that real movies about real people still have an audience - not that I don't write mindless fluff - fart jokes and all - but hey the saying is you can't know joy until you know pain(I always thought that was BS in life) so all well-crafted movies should have an equal foothold in the release schedules of studios. Rather than the experimental searching for a star power ( how many of those flops have there been lately) or the countless remakes it would be great if proven content and technique for other demos (there's more than one route to 4 quadrant success) became more important.


The saying is that "no one knows what will be successful" but I don't believe that. Analyses have shown that the most successful movies have the same basic elements. Of course, blending these elements into a "unique" story is hard work, it's not impossible. Perhaps more writers should hang out in popular bars with viewers. Then they will understand that viewers want entertainment, not "proven quantities" besides we just established that "no one knows what will be successful" which should include "faces" or "names."

Transformers had no huge names - the original made Shia and Megan - and no human "heroes" but still dragged the kiddies in by the droves. I highly doubt that any of them are having water cooler discussions about plot problems and socio-political messages inherent in what is being called sexist and racist. Sure, Bay is probably insensitive to anyone but his "group" but it's making him money though it is destroying the integrity of the blockbuster. A true blockbuster has legs and will at the very least, please the "escapist" nature of the film critic. After all, whether or not you agree, think they are full of it or anything else, they actually watch the movies. Being impartial when your head is spinning is difficult and truthfully unnecessary.

Opinion is opinion, even with proven factors supporting same.


Maybe I'll update this if I decide to "get my glitter on." I just don't like movies like that. I need a feeling super hero that flies and survives explosions, not ones who are there just to be blown up or ripped to pieces - I'd rather they didn't kill Jazz and pointed him to It could have been an intervention side story.

Also, remember that theaters don't give money back usually so once you pay, you've paid.


René said...

Jesus Christ, amigo. Nice post. Sorry I haven't been by in a while, but I'm glad you're keeping the blogging up. I got to go to a press screener for T:RotF and I found it only OK. I gave it a favorable review because I knew that other people would dig it.


Christian H. said...

Thx. I visit your site but I'm in serious Ph.D moder ight now with screenwriting. This is probably my first review.
I just thought all of the furor was interesting.